Last night's shoulder workout suffered a 30-minute delay while another gym member used the shoulder-press bench as a phone booth. Let's kick off 2019 with a quick gym etiquette refresher course.

Why join a gym? In this day and age, you can buy excellent at-home workout equipment at reasonable prices. Why leave the house and travel to a health club? The answer is simple - atmosphere and focus. Your workouts can benefit from the energy of other people. Unfortunately, they can get derailed when gym etiquette goes out the window.

Gym time is precious; make the most of it. When on the gym floor, use the time as an opportunity to unplug. Shut the cell phone off. Better yet, leave it in the car. Last night I lost count of the number of people who sat at a bench or machine talking on the phones.

The universal rules of gym etiquette are ultimately very simple. Watch the instructional video, and we'll have a short refresher afterward.

Here is a short list of common sense items, most of which are posted in every gym.

  • Please re-rack your weights
  • Turn your cell phone off
  • Most certainly do not talk on your cell phone while occupying a machine or bench
  • When in the locker room, towel that junk up... no one wants to look at your genitalia... really.
  • No children running around while you're working out.
  • Do not use the squat rack for bicep curls.
  • It is pretty much impossible to super-set on 15 machines at once. Limit the number of machines you are using at any given time.
  • If someone has their headphones on and are working out, chances are they want to be left alone.
  • No martial arts moves while on the gym floor.
  • Don't bang dumbbells together. It is hard on your wrists, you can cause metal chips to fall in your eye, and it is really hard on the weights.
  • Do not chalk up to lift the little 5 pound pink weights. If you chalk up, get the chalk on your hands, not the floor and walls.

Recently, I've taken up wearing headphones while at the gym. I used to be opposed to this. Some of the top fitness coaches in the industry advise against wearing headphones. They have the potential to be a distraction.

On the other hand, some people find headphones to motivate them to maintain a steady, energetic pace. In my case, though, there is a tendency to get lost in the audio and waste too much time between sets.

Western Colorado is home to a number of fantastic gyms and health clubs. When the atmosphere is right, the energy of other people can propel your workouts. You can literally feed off the aura projected by focused lifters. A tiny bit of gym etiquette goes a long way to drive a workout right through the roof.